8 Ways to Navigate Expectations in Grief

Expectations are the belief that something will happen. We all have them! Maybe you envisioned growing old with your husband or raising your children in a two-parent family. Most of us never expect to suffer, or at least not in the way that we did. An expectation can often encompass what we think or even hope will happen. Examples of this might include:

  • Holidays looking a certain way
  • How people might respond to a certain message or situation
  • How you might respond to a given message or situation
  • How events might unfold
  • Or how you might feel on a given day


Expectations based on “human assumption” create opportunities for disappointment, conflict, envy, and bitterness.


8 Ways to Navigate Expectations

  1. Ask God for help. 
  2. Communicate in advance when appropriate.
  3. Overlook an offense. Sometimes, a situation can worsen if we let it.
  4. Learn from the experience. Learning from past expectations can set you up better for future events.
  5. Release control. You won’t know exactly how things will unfold or how you will feel. 
  6. Surrender your plans to God’s. He is ultimately in control.
  7. Forgive. Many times, the unmet expectation is not intentional, life is moving forward, or a change is necessary. It is okay that things don’t go like they once did or you would like them to.
  8. Talk to God. Don’t stew on unmet expectations. 


Scriptures that Bring Hope

  • God will keep His promises.

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV).

  • God will be faithful.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV).

  • God will be kind, merciful, full of grace, and an ever-present help in times of need. 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NIV).

  • God is a Father to the fatherless and a Defender of the widow.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5 NIV).

  • He is coming again.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be” (John 14:1-3 NASB).